Have you ever been watching a zombie movie and just couldn't shake the thought of what a particular zombie would look like without the makeup? Have you asked yourself 'who is this actor', 'haven't I seen him/her before', and/or 'what the hell is he/she up to these days'? No? It's just me? You were too caught up in enjoying the movie to even think such a useless thought? Well that's why i'm here to think it for you!
Now we're not talking about the zombies who start out as normal human beings here. What fun is that? We're talking about the mysterious ones who are already zombies when the cameras start to roll. So how about we peel back all that pesky zombie makeup, clean these mofos up, and take a look at who the real men and women are behind five of my personal favorite zombies!
Bub - Day of the Dead - Howard Sherman (aka Sherman Howard)
If you ask the majority of genre fans who their favorite zombie is, they'll inevitably tell you it's Bub, the smartest and kindest of all the undead. In fact, even Romero says Sherman is one of the best zombie actors he's ever worked with. While he has been in almost 100 films and television shows, including Lethal Weapon 2, Star Trek, Seinfeld, Law & Order, and even Superboy (where he played Lex Luthor), Sherman will forever be known as lovable and cuddly zombie Bub. Funny story about Sherman ; I met him at a convention a couple years back and walked off with his autograph, accidently forgetting to pay! Well my guilt got the better of me so I returned a few minutes later and threw in an extra dollar with my payment for some reason. It ended up being pretty awkward and I felt like he was a homeless dude who I was giving pity money to. I tried to avoid his table for the remainder of the weekend due to my humiliation.
Big Daddy - Land of the Dead - Eugene Clark
Big Daddy is certaintly one of the more memorable and likable zombies to ever grace the screen. Before he began his acting career way back in the 70's, Clark was a college football player who was actually selected in the 9th round of the NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. While he never appeared in an NFL game, he did play 20 games in the Canadian Football League. Clark had been a working actor for over 3 decades before he landed the role of Big Daddy, appearing in The Twilight Zone, Kung Fu, and a host of other television shows and films in both Canada and the U.S. He was last seen alongside Sam Jackson in Resurrecting The Champ and in the Stir Of Echoes sequel. I also got the opportunity to meet him at a convention and he was a real awesome dude and the signed Land of the Dead shirt proudly hangs on my wall to this day.
Number 9 - Land of the Dead - Jennifer Baxter
Baseball loving 'Number 9' was probably the most memorable female zombie to me....that is, before I saw Zombie Strippers. She was also the hottest zombie around, but I think that trophy has also been taken away. But there's no denying that both in and out of the makeup, Baxter is a true undead babe. Prior to Land, Baxter was in a multitude of Canadian television shows and commercials and a few American films like Frequency, Knockaround Guys, and Donald Trump biopic Trump Unauthorized, where she played Marla Maples. Post Land she appeared in the '05 remake of Dark Water, television show The New Adventures of Old Christine, and can now be seen in a leading role in the popular Canadian tv show Billable Hours. Number 9 is one zombie I wouldn't mind getting bitten by.
Tarman - Return of the Living Dead 1 & 2 - Allan Trautman
Who doesn't love the Tarman! He's certaintly one of the more unique and interesting of all zombie lore. I bet ya didn't expect him to look like that without all the black goo on him! I bet you also didn't expect that Trautman went on to work as a puppeteer for Jim Henson and The Muppets in 1990 and then for Dinosaurs in '91! He also did puppet work for Dr. Doolittle and both Men In Black flicks and has been the voice of many Muppets as well as the 'BBQ Pig' in Monkeybone. Who knew!?
Victor Pascow - Pet Sematary - Brad Greenquist
While not a zombie film in the traditional sense, one cannot argue the fact that Pet Sematary is most definetly a zombie movie. There's not wild lumbering packs of the recently deceased chewing on the flesh and brains of their human counterparts, but it's dead people being brought back to life nonetheless and zombie ghost Victor Pascow has always been one of the most terrifying members of the undead to me. The thing with Pascow is that he's a very human zombie. What I mean is, we see his final moments of life after being struck by an automobile, and we feel empathy for him. He's not just some wild zombie on the loose that needs to be stopped. He's a talking human who's just died and is now haunting the characters of the film and I think that makes him so much creepier than the rest. Sematary was one of Greenquist's first film roles and since the movie he's appeared on Law & Order, Star Trek, Nash Bridges, Six Feet Under(i'm gonna have to go back and check that episode out!), and most recently the smash hits Heroes and Medium.
So what have we learned here? There seems to be two common links between all of these actors. 1, their roles as zombies are seemingly their only forays into the horror genre and 2, they will probably be best known for those zombie roles. But that's not the worst thing that can happen as it's a pretty cool honor to be immortalized as a cinema zombie icon, is it not?!
Now invite some friends over and pop in Return of the Living Dead and dazzle them with the knowledge that the guy who played Tarman did the puppet work for Dinosaurs! If that little bit of trivia doesn't get ya laid, you just might be a hopeless soul.